I'm editing a book with this sentence:

'Viroj, his wife, Pranom, Joan and I were duly ushered into an audience room at Chitralada Palace.'

Viroj's wife is Pranom so Pranom is set off with commas as a non-restrictive appositive (Viroj has only one wife). Thus there are four people going to the palace. However, if you do not know that Viroj's wife is Pranom, then you could read the sentence as there being five people going to the palace.

Should I separate the names with semi-colons as so:

'Viroj; his wife, Pranom; Joan; and I were duly ushered into an audience room at Chitralada Palace.'

It looks a little odd to me but I believe it is correct?


CMS says to use semi-colons in complex lists with other punctuation so I think it's technically correct if not ideal. I believed I needed to set off 'his wife' from Pranom as it is merely adding extra information and is non-essential to the understanding of the sentence.

I have now discovered that non-restrictive appositives can also be set off with dashes or parentheses so @Jason Bassford's advice is good. I take his point about the ordering of her name and her description but this book is a product of its time and wives are very much accessories in it!

@Marcellothearcane and @BillJ are also correct according to CMS: https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Commas/faq0031.html https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Commas/faq0034.html

Although: https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Commas/faq0085.html

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